Aim/PurposeClimate change mitigation is a global challenge, in which academia and business have a role to play. This research explores ways to develop a freely-available information system that would enable small businesses to identify and reduce their environmental footprint.
BackgroundWhile large organizations have the resources to track emissions and other pertinent data, small businesses may not, despite intentions to be more environmentally responsible. Freely available applications to track emissions focus on the carbon footprint of things, whereas activities are a more meaningful unit of analysis for business managers.
MethodologyUsing a design science research approach, we conducted a study of a collaborative project that investigated how a low-cost, freely-available online wiki could be developed by group of students, under the guidance of university scholars and business owners. In the project, different student groups were tasked to create the wiki, input content and design a dashboard interface for managers to find data relevant to their business. The research takes an information systems view of the project, relying on the holistic notion of activity from activity theory and taking a design science approach to the study.
ContributionThe paper contributes to the practices of green information systems, climate change, and small business. Theoretically it provides new insights into the linear view of design science in resource poor, collaborative projects.
FindingsThe research demonstrates the viability of an online system to track the environmental footprint of business activities. It reveals the challenges from a design science perspective of attempts to create online systems using freely available products and labor.
for PractitionersMeaningful information systems to assist small businesses to manage their environmental footprint should focus on activities not things, be low cost and easy to use.
for Researchers Complex nonlinear design science frameworks may be needed to build community-based green information systems projects.